WASHINGTON, January 31, 2002 ( – The federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced a proposed revision in the regulations governing the State Children’s Insurance Health Program (SCHIP) program, which provides medical assistance for a low-income “child” under age 19. The new regulation, would clarify that states may include coverage for children from conception to age 19, making pregnant women eligible to receive prenatal and delivery care.

Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee praised the measure. “We applaud this Bush Administration proposal to recognize the existence of an unborn child in order to allow the baby, and the mother as well, to receive adequate pre-natal care—a proposal to which only the most extreme pro-abortion ideologues will object,” he said. Pro-abortion groups are condemning the measure even though it allows coverage for pregnant women who are not eligible for Medicare, since they see it as establishing the recognition of the unborn child as a person.

Under SCHIP, states have authority to set eligibility requirements for their programs. Therefore states would not be required to extend coverage to children not yet born. The option to make this extension of coverage would be available following publication of a final regulation, which would take place only after comments on the proposal are received and analyzed. The process could be complete this spring, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson said.

See the HHS release on the proposal:


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